Mo Farah’s disgraced former coach was paid a six-figure bonus partly out of National Lottery funding even though UK Athletics had dropped him as a consultant, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Alberto Salazar received £125,000 for his role between 2012 and 2016 as a bonus for helping Farah to win Olympic gold, an email obtained via a Freedom of Information request has shown. A part of that sum was public money in the form of National Lottery funding.
Salazar was paid the medal bonus even though UKA dropped a consultancy arrangement with the American coach following a BBC Panorama investigation into his methods in 2015.
The email obtained by this newspaper reveals that, in March 2017, an employee of UK Sport wrote: ‘Alberto Salazar received 125K medal bonus from UKA following [redacted] medal winning performances. Salazar’s [sic] was not contracted or employed by the sport.
[Redacted] confirmed that the funding to pay Salazar’s bonus … in the Rio cycle was from WCP [World Class Performance] pot and not UK Athletics own money.’
It can be assumed the bonuses were due to Farah’s medal-winning performances. A later email from UK Athletics states: ‘2013-2017 Olympic Coach bonus policy … Alberto Salazar (Mo Farah — men’s 5000m/10,000m)’.
Farah won double gold medals at 5,000m and 10,000m at the World Championships in 2013 and 2015 and at the Rio Olympics in 2016. He also won double gold at the 2012 London Olympics when coached by Salazar, though it appears these payments do not relate to that period.
UK Athletics, who initially hired Salazar in 2013, wanted Farah to cut ties with the coach following the BBC investigation. UKA coaches, the late Neil Black and Barry Fudge, however, strongly resisted.
Farah therefore was still using Salazar until 2017, meaning the coach still qualified for the performance bonuses. Salazar’s consultancy was role was always informal, was not contractual and he was not paid for it by UKA. As it transpired, only Farah among UK athletes made use of his coaching methods.
World Class Performance refers to UK Sport’s National Lottery funding of leading Olympians, although as is made clear, the rules changed after 2016 so that Lottery money was not used to pay coach bonuses.
A later email from UKA states that what they describe as the World Class Performance ‘pot’ to pay Salazar’s bonuses came from UK Sport money and ‘co funding from the main sponsor at the time’. The Rio cycle refer to the years running up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, 2013-2016.
However, UK Sport sent a number of emails in 2017 quizzing UKA about the arrangements. An employee at UK Sport also emphasised in the March 2017 email that the new funding agreement ‘also highlights an expectation that if a WCP [funded athlete] were entering into an unusual, novel or potentially contentious arrangement that they would they would discuss with UKS [UK Sport] prior to doing this.’